Tales of Dead Armadillo Book 2 Chapter 2 Section 4 A Novel About Crosscountry Running by Esteban Erik Stipnieks



The dropping of the assault charge got Serg trusting Stephen King. Tension remained. Tom then said "We are doing half up Kohler half down crunches and pushups." Stephen put on his air Maxs again. He had his royal blue shorts and an old Denton Team T-shirt with the slogan "Running wild.” Raul asked “Why don’t you wear your old Team T-shirt on workouts?” Stephen responded "Its dress up I wear it at Pep-rallies, Fridays and race days." Stephen knew the nickname Ace meant nothing slowly though that was changing. The T-shirt of Denton Track had appeared and Stephen King wore it a couple workouts without even bringing up the nickname.  The status on the name was changing Stephen did not know it.  The group headed out to the blazing sun under dry heat.

Tara saw the shirt "So you are finally done unpacking?" Stephen nodded. Steven Ray then said "You ran wild last night." Stephen replied "I did not stop believing I found something worthy of believing in and the fire is unvanquished just directed" Then he thought about he winced again. His memories drifted back to a spot in history. It was obvious. Grief was on his face for everybody to see. Then the group stretched and began a serious two laps on the track. UTSA had a reputation contempt was the word for it. Everybody knew they were going into storage mode it was solid cruise. The drag racing of the week was over and it had its moments had served its role.  Now the task was coming off peak and setting up the approach to a meet on a course that tormented.  The black clay white limestone trails through thick cedar was flat out unpleasant.

Stephen was unwinding just a bit. Raul asked Stephen as the run began how he could describe the course. Stephen said "My faith forbids me from accurately describing the course.” Serg said “I would call it a bitch but I would not want to insult bitches.” Tom replied "Its not that bad" Bo responded "You are right it's worse!" Stephen King said "You got that right!" Stephen Ray said "I thought you should not cuss!" Stephen King asked "Did I?" French Fries snickered. They were on Ohio at a decent job crossing panther canyon. Bo responded "He burned you!" Stephen Ray realizing that said "I should be used to it this week." They turned onto California heading east. Bo was feeling a bit goofy so he decided to turn and invert the run a bit. Tom smiled everybody knew the route and Bo quipped "You were right Stephen we show up within seconds the same spot in the hall each day too much monotony. They made that small block in quick time and were trucking back up California at a leisure pace. The long slow distance of Monday and the blazing speed of last night. Serg then said "Well at least will not find out what Aero I mean French Fries had for lunch today.” Tom started laughing despite himself.

Bo said forget the hair you are now French frees and Stephen King you are Ace since you are going to fly to Denton. Stephen replied "Fine with me." They were back up near Ohio. The job was leisurely the guys and girls. Lezlee pulled within view of Stephen his second return to Unicorn land and she was nice to him. He was attracted to her but he could feel Tara's eyes burning his back of his head. Her stare was heavy two eyeballs were scorching his head.  He finally said "My sister by the blood is reminding me of the unforgettable fire and a certain trade made that I must be true to." Lezlee was surprised. She had a good butt and stout curves she was dense and cute but as the lust fired something. Stephen finally force his eyes upward and tried to dance away from a conversation he wanted. Anna was surprised. "Are you gay?" Raul asked. Tara responded "No he just had to reminded he did not want to choked." Kimber then said "That’s being a good little sister I saw Stephen's eye.” Stephens face turned red as they were now above Panther Canyon. The jogged just beyond the band to the stadium where they did the half and the workout was done.

Steven Ray quipped "Now you know what it is like having sister on the team." Stephen King laughed "I needed to be kept straight." Lezlee asked "What was it about?" Coach Noel was in the locker room he was hearing the conversation. He grinned "What happened?" Stephen said "Tara saved me from stupidity." Raul said "Lezlee was flirting with you." Stephen Ray said "Tara West's eyes were locked on him as he started responding to it." Stephen could feel her stare burning disapproval.  Tom then said "YOu pushed her off of as she was nasty and undesirable." Bo said "Yeah why is that she is hot and you flirted with her your freshman year." Stephen King said "She is hot she is cute but she is not a Christian Tara was reminding be about being unevenly yoked" Coach Noel seeing the situation "So your sister saved you from yourself?" Stephen was embarrassed "Hard not having the accountability like you had in Denton isn't it?" The tone was playful encouraging. Stephen replied "Yeah miss the bible study with Keith and having others who can kick my butt when I get out of line." Coach Noel said "But he does provide" Stephen nodded as he picked up his bag and walked off.  Tom began to understand the dynamic between Noel Scott and Stephen. 

Lezlee was upset at Tara for brazenly cutting her off....I was just playing with him. Tara responded yeah he had his eyes on your butt and breasts. What does it matter to year Lezlee asked. Anna chimed in "Yeah it’s not like you are interested in him. Why would a guy brag about being a virgin?" Julie entered in the conversation "Perhaps he has seen things many guys his age have not and he has found something more then himself to worship." Kimber then said "Tara saw her brother about to act like Beavis and saved him from himself" Lezlee asked what that is about choking. Julie said "A couple is a pair of ox when one is weaker the stronger one will try to drag them and wind up choking." Lezlee and Anna were confused. Amanda had listened to the conversation. Julie seemed surprised "Is he taken?" Tara said "No but he is not house broken either he has live issues at home lets just say there are multiple reasons why he is doing JROTC and yearbook he was angry at Special for a whole host of reasons I am glad he dropped assault charges but that does not change the fact he was disappointed and angry at Special's actions." The statement left more questions then answers. Linda said "He got weirder from Denton." Tara finally said "Stephen's parental relationships are not nearly as nice as they appear to be he get frustrated with people who self destruct using their home life excuse." She walked out. Leisha followed her, "What has happened in Denton?" Tara simply said "Denton Bible" and walked away. What Tara displayed was something Leisha had never seen an inflexibility. 

A cold front ripped through that night another soaking it was weak it dry the air out while soaking the ground. Friday morning the team T-shirt new team T-shirt and a nice pair of blue jeans. The Blue and white air Pegasus were there along with the letter jacket it was purple and gold with the NB was over the top of the D all the markings on D were clear but the location of the NB was a clear statement of precedence. It was above and to the shoulder indicating it had been earned first. The two buttons opened revealed a Team T-shirt that was crosscountry. The shoes blue and white Driving and parking in the Athletes parking lot was a senior thing to do. He was going to show his true colors and lead. The letter was noticed as he walked to the yearbook room. Anna who was wearing her full monoceras pre game clothing. It was a split skirt long enough to go far enough on the knees to be within the dress code. The top was blended with the skirt a nice blouse that was form revealing but not skanky also solid blue it could have passed for fun office attire. Commented, “Looking good in reference to him but I am not Christian enough for you!” The T-shirt was the 1993 version of the crosscountry team T blue and white blocks with in the background NB up front with shadow on the outline of the paint style letter the crosscountry arrow Stephen replied "But you are still a teammate looking good girl!" He laughed. He flashed his yearbook pass as he went beyond the main hall to the assistant principal as he grabbed for it he smiled "Thanks for checking nice to know the sups son cant get away with murder." The line shocked because it was sincere. Ace had meant it.  The asking for the pass had been done as a joke.  Stephen had just made a point....respectfully. 

Stephen went to the lab which was a social gathering place and started talking Bobby Dell who had introduced him to the cam back his freshman year.  He just was surprised how Stephen had blossomed with the camera. Bobby said "The football guys give me a hard time.” Stephen replied “I guess I am associate jock now.” The line was shocking even for Ace.  Bobby laughed he was short chubby and Stephen acknowledged that he was the master of the group shot he would do drama/debate academic decathlon. There were three Tracy had been doing volleyball. Stephen put his jacket on a stool. No more crosscountry photos till district. Susan commented "You got on your Unicorn best.” Stephen responded “When while attending NBISD schools have I not gone Unicorn out on Friday?” Susan replied "Good point.” Stephen ate his two bacon and egg tacos from Marina’s. Stephen's grand mother had been busy yet the tacos were good enough to pass. He finally got to the chorizo and egg taco also good. He drank his coffee with Carnation Instant breakfast with a fair amount of half and half. Stephen was looking forward to the pep rally. Susan commented "I thought crosscountry runners were supposed to watch there diet." Stephen responded "If I did not there would not be enough of me to go around." With that he hinted that eating could actually be a chore. After 3,000kcal a day it did become a bit of chore counting to make sure one had enough.

The hard work done through the week academically had paid off. Stephen coasted justifiably so that day. His grades were a solid B average. Lunch was interesting the jock image was shining through. He ate lunch with two of his football player friends. He was encouraging they were going to play Samuel Clemens that night. The letter looked nice. Al said "Glad to know you got your priorities straight" as Stephen put the jacket on the back of his chair. Stephen replied "You got it." The group ate talking about what was coming ahead. The temps were not going to be as bad as Stephen had feared but bottom line UTSA was still a pain in the butt. Samuel Clemens always had a special spot in desiring to beat the Unicorns. It was gong to be a hard one ahead. Stephen revealed the new nickname Ace it was somehow sticking. Bell rang and the last periods before the last workout of the week.

When Stephen got to the yearbook room his teacher said "I will let you workout with the team on one condition" Stephen asked what "You run the best race you can tomorrow Unicorn!" Stephen replied "Yes ma'am I will I have an issue I need to settle with this course." Her encouragement was similar to what was going from Monoceras, band members, volleyball team, cheer leaders and football team.

Tom had taken pride in the team. His world had been rocked but the presence of the NB in the very front of the letter jacket was a declaration of purpose. Everybody on the team had worn their T-shirt. Corny as it was he was liked. Coach Bob had made it clear that the real purpose of the Friday workout was a systems check. The group quickly changed headed out and did the workout quarter up six strides quarter down. Tom was only slightly sore a good nights rest and a meal would solve that. Bo was cracking jokes. Serg was like the Shakespearean character Touchstone. Tara the new comer was respectful to the pecking order but she could yank her brother's chain. He realized the force for boys and girls to take district with the talent. Raul was somewhat out of control the rivalry between Bo and Paul was still there but kept under control. The quarter was finished the strides were fun on the plugged field. The warm down was easy going.

Once in the locker room it was clear they were to hide as a group right by one corner for the pep rally. The band played loudly and the football team took their seats. The noise already began the crosscountry voices joined it. A lot of the football players were friends with many members of the crosscountry team and the two shared two common members. The cheers began and the noise level of the gym soared beyond 90 decibels. Steven King Rolled in ear plugs before it happened he had lost enough hearing to realize what he had left been precious. Coach Noel Scott played a role in a skit where they went beach song from the Beech Boys. The Monoceras did a dance a routine they had been working on. Anna was a member of the group more cheers. The smile on Ace's face said it all.  He was home.  The fact that the team had its members on the football team and on the cheerleaders added to the noise. They were cheering as a group. The team was called out for recognition the program for the Pep Rally was outlined on a long script of paper. The Alma Matre was played and Tom, Bo, Stephens King and Stephen's voice even Serg's voice joined together Raul was shot a look and Thomas allowed Mike to look at the words from the folder new students got.

Tara was encouraged to be on the other side where the girl’s locker room fed to the gym. She had seen some pep rallies in Denton Amanda insisted. Kimber nodded. Lezlee was with the group. What she saw and heard was amazing. Her ears were hurting the gym was filled loud. The team cheered on its crosscountry cohorts and when it was recognized their hands went up along with the boys. The volleyball team was recognized in addition to the band cranking out the tunes. Unity. Lezlee handed her the folder that had the Alma Matre on it as the pep rally was winding down. Her voice joined hundreds of other students. She had heard it sung by Stephen. She joined in. She understood the points of conflict on a vision. Stephen was a purist like her father and like her. The blue and White for truth and right was a code of conduct a statement of moral principal she knew was deviated from. The double standard did not diminish the glory of the standard or the beauty of the dream. She found it hard to hold hostility for those who were naive Stephens’s anger was real but at times it could be tempered. When the song was sang hundreds of voices sang filling the gym and the fight song ended it.

For Paul and Dennis the night was hard the team lost and Paul got crunched in one kick off return. Dennis missed a tackle. Coach West was showing his old school southern tradition. Tara knew the result on the radio she knew she would have to get rest she was a coaches daughter. Kimber called her passing her condolences and the sisters of the coaching dads hung. It was dinner at the Adobe the fajitas had lots of Guac on them. The guacamole had lots of potassium. Stephens mom asked why he was not going to run Varsity. Stephen King said times determine it. Stephen was early to bed knowing he would need the sleep. Before he did he checked his exceed bottle and his gear which included the Unicorn warm ups.



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